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Reviewed: F1 2016 - official game comes to mobile devices for the first time

The 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix re-run in the same time it took a slow moving train to travel from New Cross to London Bridge may have had the same w...

Reviewed: F1 2016 - official game comes to mobile devices for the first time

The 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix re-run in the same time it took a slow moving train to travel from New Cross to London Bridge may have had the same winner as it did in real life.

But Lewis Hamilton’s iPhone-based triumph was somewhat overshadowed by Pascal Wehrlein’s sensational charge from 21st on the grid to the podium - at least that's how it was for me!

Codemasters has released the official Formula 1 video game for mobiles and tablets for the first time and it is currently available on iOS devices, with an Android version set to follow in the coming weeks.

After paying the not-inconsiderable sum of £8 to download the app, I set to work taking Sebastian Vettel to victory in the Canadian Grand Prix. However, things did not exactly go to plan.

F1 2016 game app

F1 2016 has four configurations of controls – beginner and pro tilt, and beginner and pro touch. The first two involve physically tilting the whole phone to make your car turn and the harder difficulty means you control both accelerating and braking, whereas the former just involves steering and braking. There are also a variety of assists that can be turned on or off to your heart’s content.

My race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve quickly turned to disastrous as I struggled with tilting the phone and getting the car to respond even remotely as I wanted it too. After a quick adjustment of the sensitivity settings things were easier in the corners but the slightest tilt on the straights had my SF16-H rubbing against the barriers and incurring the wrath of the stewards (more on that later).

So, now driving Felipe Massa’s Williams around Silverstone, I tried the pro touch approach. With this configuration you steer by planting your left thumb on the screen and the further you slide it to the left or right the harder the car turns. Much better. Although left-handers proved to be a real weakness as I’d accidentally slide my thumb onto the non-touch sensitive parts of the screen and the car would instantly stop turning.

F1 2016 game app

Braking too started off tricky. The “dynamic” racing line changes colour as you hit the brakes, but the cars lock up at virtually every big braking zone. And don’t bother trying to brake and steer at the same time or you’ll understeer straight into the side of any opponent you may be trying to overtake.

But my technique started to improve (you can carry way more speed into corners that you think) and I began to work my way up the levels of difficulty pretty quickly. Unfortunately the computer AI is not that tough to beat even on the hardest setting and your opponents rarely try to retake a position once you’ve got by.

The graphics are nowhere near the same level as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One equivalent, but then that was never likely to be the case on a mobile device. All all things considered they’re not too bad and I didn’t find they took away from my enjoyment of the game, but I could see the realism being an issue for some.

F1 2016 game app

Things that were slightly more irritating included the inconsistency of the AI – one moment the other cars would be meandering along and then suddenly taking off like rocket ships as I approached – and the often inexplicable application of the black-and-white flag to punish corning cutting, colliding with opponents or the ridiculous “wall riding”.

I’m not sure how hitting the wall can ever be considered ‘gaining an advantage’ and taking a slightly wider line through Eau Rouge is bizarrely considered to be the same infraction even if you stay fully within the white lines.

The game is divided into six modes: “season” where you can play practice, qualifying and race sessions from the 2016 F1 season – although bizarrely not necessarily in order – and the self explanatory “quick race”, “race weekend”, “custom season” and “time trial options.

F1 2016 game app

To keep things fresh there is a “weekly event” challenge and its here where you can measure your best time at a certain track with a certain car – these are different each time – against other players.

The high price point – nearly a quarter of a console F1 game – means this app is surely only going to appeal to the sport’s hardcore following, but having a full F1 grid and every track of the 2016 in your pockets is its real draw.

Have you tried the official F1 game on your mobile or tablet? What did you make of the app? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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